London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: Volunteer of the Year - Nahimul Islam
WAPPING Youth Football Club’s director Nahimul Islam remains humble and determined to grow after receiving a nomination in the prestigious London Sport Awards.
Despite lockdown, Nahimul continued to provide a service for his community in Tower Hamlets, one of the UK’s most deprived areas, and has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year, in association with London Youth Games.
He supported Marcus Rashford’s campaign, taking it upon himself to deliver over 600 nutritious meals to the most vulnerable members in the community at the start of the pandemic, while delivering over 200 hours of virtual activities for members of the community to keep fit and healthy.
One of the main areas of Nahimul’s lockdown volunteering was around the mental health in his community, he said: “Over the past year it’s just been absolutely crazy for us, with the pandemic hitting, we’ve had to really put ourselves out there to support our community.
“As a football club we had to diversify away from football and really see how we can help our community, so we ended up doing a lot of indoor virtual activities and fitness programmes, we went out and gave food to the homeless and the needy, we’re doing campaigns to help people’s mental health.
“One of the key components of the mental health campaign was yoga, we managed to attract more than 100 people on a virtual yoga session.
“The nicest thing about that was that 80% of them are 40+, what we did over the past year or so was all about community cohesion and really breaking down inter-generational barriers, so our volunteering hours really increased, and we felt like we made a difference.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups, and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
Nahimul is nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award and will find out if he is the winner at the Guildhall awards ceremony on Monday 6 December.
But while he is delighted to be recognised, the praise is not something that he was ever searching for, as he balances the volunteering with full-time employment and studying for a Masters degree.
When asked how on earth he finds the time he said: “Honestly, I get asked this all the time, the only answer is sleepless nights, honestly, sleeping at 4/5 in the morning and waking up at 8am.
“I wouldn’t give the credit to myself, I’d give the credit to the team, the community, people around me, because of the work we do and the amount of support we get from others around us, it really inspires me and motivates me.
“I don’t want to take any credit, that’s the truth, if I can change one person’s life that’s a massive achievement and my only thing that I want back is that if I’ve helped you, then I want you to go and do the same thing to someone else, that’s the sort of community spirit we’re looking to create.
“As a nation we’ve really got to open our arms and look out for each other.”